Domestic workers are a significant part of the informal employment sector. When I say domestic workers, I refer to the people that work as housemaids, nannies, caretakers, cooks, drivers, ‘askaris’ and even gardeners, in most homes.
They work for households either part time or full time. Usually, they help us at our homes with any work as listed above.
Domestic workers dedicate a lot of their efforts to improve our well-being by ensuring that our homes are kept in perfect conditions.
This gives homeowners plenty of time to focus on their careers, work and/or education without any stress. Some domestic workers grow together with us from childhood to old age and become part of our families.
Therefore, they play such a great role in the growth of our society that cannot be argued against.
For all the years of their service to our families and homes, do we really take care of them and their immediate needs, the way they do for us? Do we know what happens to them after they leave work? Do we take the time to listen to them and speak with them on important matters like financial matters, social matters...?
I believe most of us will answer ‘No’ to these questions.
Here’s a short story: there is a housemaid who left her village to find work and she landed one at your home. She works hard every day including Saturday to make sure the house is clean and maintained in a perfect condition throughout the week.
She does this day in day out for a small wage of around Sh15,000 per month or less. The salary she gets is spent to buy food, shelter, clothes, education and the basic necessities for her family and herself.
She makes no savings because she does not know where to save, does not see the importance of doing so and her salary does not allow her to save.
One day after years of working for you, she becomes really old to work anymore and goes back to her village. She finds out that she has not made any savings for her old age and is now seeking help to live a life at old age.
If we track back to the two years after the housemaid landed a job at your home and you took the time and liberty to ask her what happens after she leaves work, ask her whether she saves or faces financial or social problems then, would the life story of the housemaid been different?
If the housemaid was shown the importance of saving at least Sh 1,000 per month from age 25 then she would have accumulated around Sh500,000 at age 60, which she could use to get a monthly income at retirement of around Sh3,800 per month, would the life story of the housemaid been different?
If the housemaid and you, as the employer, set aside at least Sh1,000 each per month from age 25 or a total of Sh2,000 per month then she would have accumulated around Sh1 million at 60 years, which she could use to get a monthly income at retirement of around Sh7,600 per month, would the life story of the housemaid been different?
I am hoping you said “Yes” to the above three questions.
It is time to act and give our housemaids, cooks, drivers, gardeners or domestic workers back for all the work they have done for us by taking care of their future.
The first step is start speaking with them about the importance of saving (or investing) for their old age and planning for the future that is inevitable (old age) because when it comes it can come with a lot of disappointment.
ARTH SHAH LEAD, Research and development at Zamara Group